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The most efficient systems are the simplest. My basic philosophy has always been to build a house that improves the environment instead of compromising it. I want to help people ground back into the earth, into nature.
Gwilliam modeled the Jasmine Pavilion at “Bali T in the Rice” in Lodtunduh, near Ubud, Bali, after classic Balinese structures. The dramatically pitched fish-scale shingle roof resembles a wizard’s hat.  
THE POST – AND – BEAM CONSTRUCTION of traditional Asian houses makes them quite versatile. These timber-frame structures are built with precut parts ready to assemble on-site or to dismantle and carry out to a different location. This chapter features Asian-Inspired timber-frame products developed by innovative companies offering houses made with prefabricated modular components, or “kits” – The Bali -house developed by Tony Gwilliam, The Minahasa House of Carey Smoot, Source tropical, the Rikyu prototype developed by Paul Discoe. Joinery Structures and the Haiku House produced by Charla Honea.

These high-quality “houses-to-go” are rewriting the definition of kit houses. Besides the strong aesthetic appeal of these Asian-Inspired designs, their modular systems give them wide flexibility with floor plans. As these designs illustrate, prefabrication does not limit the homeowner to generic and identical results. Their affordability and durability make them further attractive Committed to earth-friendly design; these companies build their products with natural, nontoxic and reused wood materials.

Gwilliams’s -house design celebrates Bali’s colorful fusion of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
: Santa Barbara, California
Architect : Tony Gwilliam
Whilst traveling in Bali, I often found myself staying in simple pavilions amongst the rice fields. I felt happy there, protected from the sun and rain yet connected to the universe around me.... One day in 1996, this brilliant-yet-simple -house design came to me and the first -house was soon handcrafted in Ojai, California, later to be followed by others back in Indonesia, Its birthplace.

--- Tony Gwilliam
International architects Tony Gwilliam, “design outlaw” on the ecological frontier, worked alongside Buckminster Fuller in the geodesic dome industry before envisioning his own design for earth-friendly shelter. With Fuller, Gwillliam developed and manufactured the lightweight high tensile aluminum and silicon dome structures as an efficient and economical alterative to traditional western housing. While the building boom surged in the 1980s and 90s, launching wide-scale production of houses with astronomical footprints constructed with toxic building materials (from particleboard to PVC), Gwilliam continued to champion the cause of the housing industry’s underdog-the environmentally sensitive small-scale house.

  This simple bale (pavilion) provides a versatile retreat for meditation, tea time, or relaxation.
In the pioneering spirit of Fuller’s dome or Ford’s Model , Gwilliam designed a prototype to improve the quality of life – the -house. For years, Gwilliam had sketched ideas for simple structure, “a space for conscious living.” At last he came up with the -house design. Gwilliam’s design concept swaps Fuller’s futuristic “autonomous dwelling machine” for an interdependent “living system” model inspired by traditional Asian architecture-the bale, the pavilion structure in Indonesia compounds (Balinese families do not live in a “house” in the western sense, but a compound with separate pavilions), and the Japanese teahouse, as the name -house implies.

Built on a humble scale with simple rustic materials, the -house is designed to work with nature, as in Asian tradition. Western architecture traditionally “fights against nature and the outside,” observes Gwilliam. Asian design encourages harmonious balance between the architecture and the natural world, and is outward oriented –open to nature-rather than inward oriented.

This Bali T room provides a pool side painting studio and retreat  
Though not intended for mass production – the -house is geared for small eco-village or resort development in tropical regions-the design’s modular kit-system construction makes it versatile and affordable. Crafted in sustainable natural materials-ironwood, alang alang, and bamboo-harvested from forest in Indonesia, the -house is also good for the earth. Gwilliams design’s models environmental stewardship with its small footprint. “One point I wish to emphasize is the importance of small when it comes to ecological design, “says Gwilliam.

If you are building a McMansion, even with green materials, the energy both for building and in use is immoral, whereas if good materials are used well to fit their characteristic, then sometimes a more exotic material may be more suited for the job…. It’s a matter of choosing the best fit. We use ironwood for our houses because it is very strong and durable, providing a long –lived house, very resistant to rot and insect. It may be disassembled and moved, modified, bought and sold, and remodeled, but the structure will provide a family home for at least 100 years, and after that, much of the wood will be reused in other ways before composting and completing the cycle.

  A classic Balinese woven-bamboo design was selected for the ceiling.
As an experiment in “minimalist impact living,” Gwilliam and his partner, Marita Vidal, an architect from Argentina, developed the pilot project Bali T in the Rice – a village of -houses located on a rice plantation near Lodtunduh. The success of this project spawned a second eco-village near Ubud, in Central Bali, and has attracted an export market in the tropical resort industry. Gwilliam plans to introduce his ecological village concept in other Indonesian countries as far as Cambodian, where he will teach people how to build these economical nontoxic houses for their communities.

Traditional Japanese-teahouse garden design inspired the intimate water garden for this -house  
The -house aesthetic appeals to the “connoisseur of the simple”- those who appreciate the economy and elegance of its minimalist proportions as well as the sensual beauty of its handcrafted material. “The house is more like a beautiful wooden bowl or a piece of furniture than a building, “Says Gwilliam. One of the most complete and authentic Bali -house designed and built in the United Stated is this charming yoga pavilion perched, birdlike, over a Japanese water garden at a private residence in Santa Barbara.

The owner, a documentary filmmaker, learned about Bali -house from a friend and contacted Tony Gwilliam to create a garden sanctuary for her in a sheltered wooded area behind her residence. The natural landscape in that part of the property, shaded with fragrant cedars, lends itself to the “deep environment of peace” provided by the design.

-house architecture features versatile kit-system construction with modular components that can be variously configured to suit a client’s needs. Depending on design preferences and program, the modules can be vertically stacked in to a two-story structure or expanded horizontally into a compound-style arrangement as in many traditional Balinese villages. This yoga pavilion features a one-module, single story plan. Its structural components were crafted in Bali, precut according to the prescribed footprint (specially engineered for California code requirements), and shipped in a twenty-foot container to the site. A local contractor and a crew of four workers assembled and erected the pavilion in less than two weeks.

  The Pavilion projections over a lily pond to heighten the connection with the sensual pleasures of the natural environment.
Like most Bali T structures, the yoga pavilion was constructed with plantation-grown ironwood, a dense tropical hardwood resistant to termites that lasts over a hundred years. The graceful shingled roof was based on a Balinese thatched- roof design. The timber – frame (post and beam) components were assembled with traditional pegged joints, with the structural pillars anchored into concrete piers. The materials are use efficiently in the construction process due to the precise measure every millimeter counts.

The structural pillars of the pavilion are anchored into concrete piers.  
The pavilion’s simple interior reflects the influence of Japanese house design, where wood itself is the primary element of the décor and space is fluidly partitioned with flexible components-removable screens and blinds, futons, and floor cushions-to maximize limited space and open the interior to nature. The interior can be configured for dinning or sleeping arrangements: the center floor panel lifts up and transforms into a kotatsu (a low wooden table with a heater underneath). Ironwood and glass pocket doors, with a grid pattern reminiscent of traditional shoji (paper screen), slide away for an open-air experience. Traditional Japanese teahouse garden design inspired the intimate water garden. The pavilion projects over a koi pond to heighten the connection with the garden and the sensual pleasures of the natural environment.

The pavilion’s simple and versatile interior reflects the influence of Japanese house design. A center floor panel lifts up and transform into a kotatsu table.   The elegant ceiling is crafted with woven bamboo.

The owner enjoys the peace and beauty of this garden retreat for her yoga practice. The pavilion also provides a delightful space for small social gatherings. Soon after the yoga pavilion was built, the owner was married there and held a wedding reception in the garden.
by Kendra Langeteig